Venezuelan Migrants Returning Home

Venezuelan Migrants Returning Home

People who return to Venezuela do so for emotional reasons. Eighty-one percent of those surveyed mentioned that they return to the country to be reunited with family and friends.

Venezuelan Migrants Returning Home: An Analysis of the Causes and Implications

Regarding Venezuelan migration, there are several issues and a few questions. However, the lack of official figures on the magnitude of this social exodus, associated with the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, hinders or makes any view or approach difficult.

The latest figure put on the table by the United Nations agencies dedicated to the Venezuelan migratory crisis, gathered in the R4V platform, is 7.1 million.

Along with the daily departure of Venezuelans, mainly to neighboring countries, there is another phenomenon, perhaps less numerous, but equally significant. These are the returnees.

A report published last December by the international NGO “The Mixed Migration Centre” on the return of Venezuelan migrants to the country has been under review. First of all, several things should be clarified. Not all those who returned did so convinced by the official narrative that “Venezuela was fixed”, nor did all those who returned do so to stay permanently in the country.

Like any social process, there are many reasons and motivations among migrants. Both for leaving and for those who have returned.

Vuelta a la Patria (Return to the Homeland)

The official figures on the return of migrants to Venezuela are not available, nor are there any official figures on the exodus. Now and then, the State media show us the news of the return of Venezuelans with the air travel program “Return to the Homeland”.

One day there is news of a flight and a week goes by with nothing. In short, it is difficult to determine the number of returnees. Considering that with the “Return to the Homeland” plan, 90 return on one flight or 200 on another flight, there is another figure that tells us that the exodus continues.

In 2022, according to figures from Panama’s Migration Directorate, an average of 390 Venezuelans crossed the dangerous Darien jungle towards Central America, to continue to Mexico and the border with the United States.

Reports on the number of Venezuelan returnees are not reliable. But, even without knowing the magnitude of the phenomenon, the study made by the NGO provides some important data on the motivations that are present.

Venezuelans were surveyed at several strategic points where people returning to Venezuela from Colombia and Peru pass through. An interview with Venezuelans who came only for a few days or to spend a holiday season was discarded.

These are some data from the study

80% of those surveyed before returning to Venezuela, were in only one host country. According to the study, 61% spent between 6 and 24 months in that place, which -according to the entity that carried out the study- evidences the difficulties they faced to settle in those countries in the long term.

A very important issue and possibly a major reason for deciding to return: 66% of all those surveyed had an irregular migratory status in their host country and less than 6% were officially temporary residents. The vast majority of these Venezuelan migrants did not have their papers in order, as is popularly said.

No known cases of deportations for being in such a situation, without regular documents in the host country have been reported, at least in countries such as Colombia or Peru, but there is no doubt and several studies corroborate the following: not being residents or lacking legal status is a major obstacle to accessing formal or better-paid jobs or employment.

71% of those surveyed gave the following reasons for leaving their country of origin: insufficient access to services (27%), difficulties in earning a living (26%), the impossibility of integrating (23%), or difficulties in regularizing their migratory situation (22%).

No less important and of an emotional nature, is the importance of family and close friends for many Venezuelans who migrated and decided to return to the country.

Eighty-one percent of those surveyed mentioned that they returned to Venezuela to be reunited with their family and friends and another 63% openly mentioned homesickness.

On the other hand, 45% of those surveyed mentioned returning motivated by the improvement of the economic situation in the country, starting a new business or investing (19%), or by job opportunities (11%).

Finally, it is no less revealing that migration should be understood flexibly: 27% of those surveyed, consulted before entering Venezuela, already stated that after spending some time in the country and being reunited with their families, they were determined to migrate again.

This report can be read in full by clicking on this link: